FA must admit its shortcomings over Hillsborough tragedy

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From: R Firth, Woodgarth Court, Campsall.

I, AND many friends, have been concerned at the way formal inquiries and reports on the Hillsborough tragedy and other high profile cases seem to lurch from one extreme to another usually so that the bulk of the blame can be laid at the door of one individual or small section of the community.

As far as the Hillsborough tragedy is concerned, the 96 deaths of totally innocent fans was caused by the opening of the main gate at the Leppings Lane end to allow the droves of late-comers into the ground. The surge of these significant numbers through the narrow tunnel under the stand led inevitably to the trampling of some victims and the crushing of others against the security fencing. A truly terrifying experience for which our sympathies still lie with their friends and relatives.

In the light of this, it was totally inexcusable for the police to accuse the victims of assisting in their own deaths and of instructing officers to amend their reports to back up this claim.

There are, however, other factors which need consideration in apportioning blame/responsibility.

Shortly after the tragedy, a senior policeman, involved in the decision to open the large gate is said to have told friends that a request to the FA officials to delay kick-off to allow the orderly entrance through turnstiles of the latecomers was refused.

The police were therefore placed with the impossible decision of either acceding to the angry demands of supporters or of controlling what would have been a concerted attack on the gate. The consequences of that decision lay heavily on him and probably hastened his early death.

Many people would ask why, on an April afternoon for a 3pm kick-off, were hundreds of fans appearing at the last minute?

The other main contributor, the security fencing which prevented all but a few to climb over onto the pitch, would not have been there but for the irresponsible activities of sections of fans from most clubs which, sadly, still appears today although mainly outside grounds or en route.

The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, Sir Norman Bettison, has paid the price for his role, but surely the time has come for the FA to admit their shortcomings and get a grip, and for all those fans who got in without tickets to either come forward or live with a troubled conscience.

From: David Downs, Sandal, Wakefield.

I HAVE followed the reports on the police involvement in the Hillsborough disaster and 
while accepting that the police decisions at the time did play a big part in the tragedy, there was the element of a number of spectators arriving late to the match. This, however, in no way excuses the police for doctoring their statements; it is beyond comprehension.

From: Ken Hartford, Durham Mews, Beverley.

Watching the Hillsborough disaster taking place over a period of about half an hour prior to the match starting, the ground was full – over full – half an hour before the kick off.